Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, iOS, Ouya
We played on: Mac

Broken Age: Act 2 is the second half of a complex, beautiful, funny, and very challenging point-and-click puzzle game. Broken Age: Act 1 came out last year (check out our review here), and the two acts are treated as two halves of one single game. So, you’ll have to finish Act 1 before you can start Act 2.

I loved Broken Age: Act 2. It did a fantastic job of wrapping up the dozens of questions I had left from Act 1, and it provided a satisfying conclusion to a beautiful coming-of-age adventure.

mom and teen

Vella’s mother comforts another teenage girl.

The Broken Age Story

In Act 1, the player helps teenagers Vella and Shay as they each try to solve a major problem. Vella is on a mission to kill the much-loved but incredibly destructive monster Mog Chothra. Shay is trapped on a spaceship with a mysterious wolf who is helping him to rescue stranded space aliens.

Neither Shay nor Vella have the support of their parents: Vella’s mom and dad want her to embrace her role as a human sacrifice, and Shay is seemingly being raised by computers who treat him as if he is a toddler. The teens and the adults in this game are often at direct odds.

But Vella’s and Shay’s parents are not villains; they are good people who just don’t understand their teenagers. That lack of understanding is a huge theme in both halves of Broken Age, and for me it rang really true to the teen/parent relationship. It’s okay to love someone you don’t understand, and it’s okay to accept love from someone who doesn’t understand you. What’s important is that you support and believe in each other. I really felt this message coming through strong and clear in Act 2 as the parents played a larger role in the plot, this time as allies.

In addition to continuing this great coming-of-age motif, Act 2 answers a lot of the plot questions brought up in Act 1 while also posing larger questions about diversity, governmental regimes, religion, and more. Representation-wise, Act 2 does a great job at showing a diverse spread of people (including a gay couple), and by the end we really see that the characters’ diversity brings them strength. Many small details dropped in Act 1 get picked up and expanded upon, all contributing to a satisfying ending that had me smiling my face off.

rewiring

Several puzzles involved rewiring little robots. These were super tricky, but pretty satisfying to decode.

The Gameplay in Broken Age: Act 2

Broken Age is a 2D point-and-click adventure game, meaning that the player needs to click on objects and engage in conversations with other characters in order to solve puzzles. For example, one character has some wire that you need, so in order to progress you’ve got to figure out what she needs herself so that you can trade. You learn to use every item in your inventory. It’s all about resourcefulness.

The puzzles in Act 2 are much harder than the puzzles in Act 1, and I got a little frustrated walking back and forth over wide distances trying to pick up clues. Luckily, the dialogue is funny and engaging, but I still would have appreciated faster modes of travel (not to mention a little more logic to some of the puzzle solutions). You may need to grab a pen and paper before you get started.

One great thing about Broken Age’s gameplay is the ability to switch between Vella’s story and Shay’s story at any time, so if one of them has a puzzle that’s driving you nuts, you can take a break from one and spend some time with the other. I did this a lot, and it really helped me keep my momentum.

The Rating of Broken Age: Act 2

Broken Age is rated E10+ for Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, and Crude Humor. Other than one quest, in which the player helps Vella create a bomb, the quests don’t require the main characters to perform violence themselves. Even the bomb is not meant to hurt people, just property. Also, selective breeding is referenced a few times, often described as “an unspeakable act.” It’s never explicitly explained, but as it’s a plot point, kids might have questions.

Shay and Mr. Huggy

A photo of a young Shay holding his favorite stuffed animal.

The Takeaway

Broken Age: Act 2 does a great job of reflecting on serious topics with humor and tact. Its blend of sci-fi and fantasy creates a world that is consistently engaging and intriguing. Most of all, though, this game is an excellent coming-of-age story. With love, diversity, and integrity at the forefront, it’s hard for me not to adore this game. I strongly recommend it for preteens, teenagers, and anyone who likes a good puzzle.

Courtney Holmes

Courtney Holmes

Courtney is Pixelkin's Associate Managing Editor. While working with the Girl Scouts of Northern California, she mentored young girls in teamwork, leadership, personal responsibility, and safety. Today, she spends her time studying adolescent development and using literary analysis techniques to examine video games.